PJ2/OE3GEA Curacao Story

7 March 2017

Gerhard OE3GEA informs DxCoffee readers:

PJ2/OE3GEA holiday style February 2017

Turning 65 I looked for a nice and interesting location to have a holiday with my XYL and the opportunity to get on the air. As we decided rather late, getting permission is a crucial factor. PJ2 sounded interesting, and their authorities acknowledge CEPT. The location, Kura Hulanda Lodge, in  Westpunt, looked fine antennawise, with small buildings and some grassy areas in between.

Equipment: I work CW shortwave only, so a small XCVR is fine. This time I took our club’s IC706, as it also has 2m, normally I bring my own DX70TH. Small PSU, airplane type earphones, the tiny and very handy Palm Radio keyer (just as big as 2 fingers), my little notebook, the very small MFJ 945 tuner – all that fits into the carry-on luggage, together with some cables.

When traveling by air, there are always some restrictions that make it necessary to decide how much stuff one will be able to carry. PJ2 was easy, as there was 1 checked bag plus one cabin bag included in the normal fare. Sometimes it looks cheaper the only choose the cabin bag, particularly on trips connected to my work, that can be a further limitation. I never experienced a security problem with radio gear in the checked baggage, as even the biggest antenna parts fit into a normal travel bag (the outbacker antenna comes in 3 pieces of 80cm each, so no big element sticks out and makes customs people nosy). Of course, there is practically always a more thorough check of the hand luggage, since wires and electronics show up clearly on the screens. I never was forced to leave anything behind, though, and only in one case they asked me to proof that the computer is a computer by switching it on. I came to prefer electronics in my hand luggage over checked baggage, since in the past I had damaged items (broken contacts of built-in transformers) that I attribute to the way baggage is being treated sometimes.

Over the years I came to prefer 2 antennas: the Australian Outbacker for 30-17-12m, originally a car antenna which needs one radial for each band, and the UL404, a very light unsymmetric dipole for 40-10m. In PJ2 I was able to put up both, the dipole from a first floor balcony to poles in the park, the outbacker was fixed to a rock on the ground by a clamp. If housing conditions are limited, I use either one of them depending on the location.

Altogether it takes me one hour to set up and get the station operating, and much less to take it down and pack.

When operating in connection with any type of family holiday it turned out  that besides one needs less power CW has a second advantage – one can work even when others are sleeping in the same room, as there is no noise from talking. We have established this on many trips, both from hotels and caravans, and it works without friction. Anyway, holiday style means there are other activities too, so I didn’t fix skeds, nor watch out for particular dxpeditions, nor for serious contesting. (In PJ2 my average operating time was 2-3 hours per day, which made up for some 1000 contacts. Antenna and other limitations this time meant I was able to work 4 continents, unfortunately no VK/ZL.

Local environment: In PJ2 both antennas were almost invisible. The Kura Hulanda Lodge staff was very helpful, and I even was given  a big pack of picture postcards to be used for QSLs.  (Some years ago, in XV5, hotel people noticed my antenna, and police was informed. Luckily I had my license in place, and everything ended in smiles.)

Preparations may need some time: Although CEPT makes it easy in many cases, in many countries you still need to apply and pay for a license, with all kinds of documents to be produced beforehand. I go through those processes, too, of course. In some countries you cannot be sure of the outcome. I have operated from almost 100 countries so far, so it seems it was worth it. In any case, as many dx holiday destinations are easy to get permission to operate, I would like to encourage everyone to try and do it – some fellow amateurs will be happy to contact you and get your QSL, and (like for me) it is a fine opportunity to get on the air, and sometimes experience a lot of attention and pileup that one would not get transmitting from a bigger European country. This type of activity is no competition to big team efforts like the one just running at the same time 20km from my place at the famous Caribbean Contest Club station PJ2T.

Concerning QSLs, I QSL every contact automatically via the bureau (I just shipped a box of QSLs). And I still like incoming cards (no wonder I act as the incoming QSL manager with the OE bureau hi.) So if you travel anywhere, even just for a few days, try set up a radio station and operate!

 

Gerhard PJ2/OE3GEA (also I5/, IS/, IM/, IG9/, T7/ on 2m CW) and many others

oe3gea@oevsv.at

********************************************

17 February 2017

Gerhard, OE3GEA will be active from Curacao Island, IOTA SA-099, 18 February to 1 March 2017 as PJ2/OE3GEA.
Active on 40 – 10m in CW.
QSL home call.

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